The Challenge: How to expand arts education advocacy efforts in your district and beyond
The Strategy: Host a countywide event to build visibility and leverage new support
The Story: Established in May of 2014, the Santa Barbara County Alliance for Arts Education (SBCAAE) hit the ground running. Just days after launching, they went before the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) board to advocate for a Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Director position – and succeeded! Building on that accomplishment, SBCAAE wanted to increase their presence and continue the conversation of arts advocacy around their county. Their goals were to engage key community stakeholders countywide, recruit new members to their arts education advocacy efforts, and keep people engaged by participating in a subcommittee.
SBCAAE’s strategy to leverage new support and build visibility for arts education advocacy was to organize, host and participate in countywide convenings, to grow their membership and consistently re-energize their cause in the community. Kelli Forman, SBCAAE’s local organizer, provides the following recommendations for hosting a successful event.
Using Events to Clarify Advocacy Goals
Checklist of Key Elements for Events:
SBCAAE played an important role in creating a new context for arts education funding allocations within SBUSD. As a result, the response was encouraging when iCAN, the Incredible Children’s Art Network, initiated discussions with the district to co-invest in the elementary visual arts program in the spring of 2016, which iCAN had been providing at no cost to the district for over ten years. In 2016-2017, and for the first time ever, SBUSD has committed $525,000 to an expansion of elementary visual arts education. In partnership, iCAN has committed $250,000 plus additional gifts of equipment and supplies at 8 school campuses valued at approximately $150,000.
Says Kelli, “What I enjoy most about our coalition is the various expertise that each individual brings. Everyone knows what piece of the puzzle they are and they know when and where to fit in. We are still finding our footing as an organization, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t making a huge impact in arts education in our county!”
The Santa Barbara County Alliance for Arts Education (SBCAAE) is comprised of a diverse group of community leaders, arts groups and arts venues, individual artists, members of the business community, agency representatives, foundations, educators, and parent-advocates. http://www.sbcaae.org